I wrote about my thoughts on Skyfall1; teal deer is that I don’t like it.
I got some great feedback via Twitter and App.net that I need to cover.
All the Women are Lessened
It turns out that my biggest peeve with Skyfall is that none of the women in it end up better off than the start of the movie.
Sévérine? Possibly raped by Bond2, then murdered for “dramatic effect.” M? Takes a bullet from a random mook, then dies later. Eve Moneypenny? Falls from being a trained field operative to an eyecandy secretary.
Beside the story of Bond’s recovery, of Mallory taking the post of M, Q not being fired for gross incompetence, all our women are left dead or in “a woman’s place.”
Eve missed a shot, hit an agent, and failed to take the second shot. Punishment? Administrative leave; what appear to be heavy sanctions.
Q plugs a known-hostile device into MI6′s network which directly results in:
- The deaths of many security guards and police officers
- Bombing of the London Underground, and a train derailing
- Breach of M’s interrogation, and more deaths
- Severe emotional damage of being shot at, during the end of M’s interrogation.
Punishment? Fuck all.
Lots of Men miss and take Desk Jobs
I was informed that a lot of men miss their shots, hit friendlies, and are deeply shattered for the rest of their lives. They can never face combat again. I wouldn’t wish that kind of emotional scarring on anyone.
We’re shown a part of that, but only from a woman. No man has his cultural appearance of strength diminished like that in the whole of the movie; only Eve. No one else is diminished from a role that important, by the logic of the universe, to that meaningless. A strong woman, whose “place” is to be a secretary. Not everyone, after all, is cut out for field work.
It’s not that it’s a desk job; it’s the social signaling of appropriate places. Women are clerical. Men do the real things.
Women are eye-candy. Men should be the ones in danger.
It wasn’t a Rape Scene
I’m still up in the air about this entire scene. Sévérine was an ex-sex-trade worker; she’d known abuse and use by men her entire adult life. Even the one who “took her away” was dark, manipulative, and left her terrified. Sexing Bond, while “appropriate” to a Bond film, it’s not exactly consensual. She wants to get away; she can only offer herself as payment. Bond accepts, and sex happens.
I feel really dubious calling it consent. She’s taken advantage of; her fear of Javier and her desire for a more normal life far outweighs her own inhibitions on sex with a man she’s only just met.
It’s Bond, what do you expect?
This feels a lot like a One True Scotsman or Bandwagon3 fallacy. Just because this is the historic view of Bond, doesn’t make it right.
We are being given a social narrative where women are expected to diminish; men are expected to always lead.
Skyfall is being positioned as a pop culture icon; Bond himself is a pop-culture icon, but the narrative itself is toxic and harmful. Why do women have to be diminished for a male power fantasy to be “worthwhile?”
Why does the narrative have to be this toxic?
Why can’t she be a strong woman who is Bond’s equal; who isn’t diminished by the course of events? Why do we have to remove all power from the women around Bond to make his success important?
He’s Bond, he shouldn’t need to be set against the diminished to shine brightly.